Job centres “failing to match jobseekers to jobs”

Sweden's government-run labour organization AMS is ineffective in carrying out its main role - linking unemployed people to job vacancies - and is wasting taxpayers money.

That was the conclusion of a scathing report from the Swedish State Audit Institution (Riksrevisionen), which said that an average front-line employee at the organization matched 8.5 people to jobs in 2003, while putting five times as many people on government labour schemes. AMS chief Bo Bylund has criticized the report, saying that things are not as bad as Riksrevisionen makes out.

The report said that taxpayers money was being used ineffectively, and most jobs were matched to jobseekers without AMS’ involvement.

“Our investigation shows that job centres have big problems carrying out their main role, namely to effectively match jobs to unemployed people and workers to employers,” said state auditor Eva Lindström.

“The tax money currently being given to job centres is not being used in the best way possible,” she added.

AMS has not even done an analysis of the work of job centres, the auditor said. The organization should be able to become twice as effective without increased resources.

The government should therefore overhaul the whole system, Riksrevisionen said.

Responding to the report, director general Bo Bylund said that AMS ‘could be better’, but said that many reforms were already underway.

“Last autumn we took measures that were in line with some of Riksrevisionen’s views,” he said in a statement.

“I am surprised by the largely negative picture painted of the job matching service, particularly as much of Riksrevisionen’s material also indicates that things are going in a more positive direction.”

He also contested the claim that staff on average only matched eight people a year to a real job. He said that Riksrevisionen was using a “faulty method” and had “calculated wrong”.

“I cannot understand why Riksrevisionen is making the already difficult work of job centre workers even harder by painting this inaccurate picture of our organization,” he said.

AMS has come in for heavy criticism from the opposition Alliance, which accused it of being politicized. The organization’s director general Bo Bylund is a former Social Democrat politician and is married to cabinet minister Berit Andnor.

Extracts of the new report were made public accidentally by AMS earlier this month, when a letter responding to the criticism accidentally made it into the public domain.